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Carpenter’s Kids Program

 

The Carpenter’s Kids Program is a partnership between the Anglican Diocese of Central Tanganyika (DCT), the Episcopal Diocese of New York (DONY), the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. It was the brainchild of Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of DCT and Bishop Catherine Roskam of DONY.  The Program also has many supporters and friends from other parts of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

 Carpenter’s Kids was established in mid-2005. The overall program helps to children orphaned by HIV plus other vulnerable children in parishes of DCT by linking these parishes with parishes in the partner US dioceses.  Since 2005, it has supported more than 7,000 kids in all levels of education: primary school, secondary school, university, college and vocational skills. 

Tanzanian schools are based on the British model.  School uniforms are mandatory – no uniform, no education.  Because the orphans and vulnerable children frequently had caregivers with minimal resources, uniforms for them were not possible, and thus neither was an education.  The Carpenter’s Kids program was developed to address this issue by providing school uniforms along with shoes, school supplies, socks, soap and a daily meal, enabling these children to go to school and develop their self-esteem. 

In 2007, St. Paul’s joined the program and was linked with Mwitikira Parish, whose priest was and still is Rev. Erasto Ndahani.  We began with supporting 50 Kids, but by the end of 2008, we had increased our support to 136 Kids.  We continued at this level until 2012 when the Carpenter’s Kids program was placed in a “sunset” mode.  This was a conscious decision by Bishop Mhogolo as he approached his retirement and wanted his successor not to be encumbered by his priorities. “Sunset mode” is ceasing to replace children who complete their schooling.  By 2017, our numbers had dropped to 75.

Initially, all the children we supported were in primary school (Standards (grades) 1 thru 7).  As time progressed and as they passed exams, a number of our children progressed to secondary school (Forms 1 thru 4) and we continued our support of them.  The costs for secondary school were higher, thus even though the numbers were declining, the overall costs remained relatively constant.  A further exam determines whether students progress to the Advanced Level Forms 5 & 6.  At the end of 2016, we learned that 4 of our students had completed Forms 5 & 6 and were eligible to attend university.  The university cost is significant - $3000/year – and we have not yet decided whether we can afford such support in view of the fact that we may have up to 10 such students with 3 years of support each.  Nonetheless it is extremely gratifying to have been able to bring disadvantaged children this far.

Additionally, through this Program, kids can get a health care assistance. The health care fund component began in 2008 with the aim of helping CKs when they are sick. This component has been of significant help for some kids, especially those with a special need.  They have benefited from the component by being able to be sent to referral hospitals.

CK is one among many projects that has brought us together in one love of God and his Son Jesus Christ.  Since the Program is in sunset, St. Paul’s is beginning a three year contract with DCT to train a group of farming families in Mwitikira  how to be more productive farmers. This is one way to carry forward our friendship and relationship with them and DCT.  Currently the Diocese, under the new bishop, Bishop Dickson Chilongani, is emphasizing Sustainable Agriculture.  This will train people how to be good farmers and help them deal with the demanding agricultural conditions in the Dodoma Region.

The following link is to a report of the initial trip to Mwitikira:

 

 

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